10 tips for writing a procurement tender

Tenders can be as simple or as complex as the situation requires – there is no standard format or length.  Content and format may also be driven by the governing regulation, which would stipulate the method of procurement and how tender can be published. A well written tender makes for a well structured contract that helps run the contract smoothly.

There will always be unforeseen events, but making everything clear up front reduces such uncertainties. For public procurement this is especially important as any changes in scope or assumptions that come to light after the issue of the tender may put the procurement exercise at risk; and waste the time and efforts.

  1. Context and Purpose: Provide background and content of the tender so that the bidders understand why this is important and what you are trying to achieve. Knowing the purpose of the goods can help bidders offer solutions that can add greater value.
  2. What are you asking for? Include technical specifications, performance  requirements, how the goods will be used or how they services will serve. Select the type of specification you are looking for and focus on making it clear and concise. Include everything that you need to have or know in order to run the contract successfully post award.
  3. How are you going to assess the bids? Make it clear to the bidders what your selection and award criteria are, and your evaluation methodology. Decide what would constitute a good response and what is most important for your criteria. Ensure you assess a balance of parameters, and not just the price. Make it clear that you want to see whole life costing where possible.
  4. What are the must-do and must-haves? Unless specified, all info provided forms part of the final agreement and is binding – forming a schedule of the resulting contract. Ask bidders to accept terms and conditions, or to indicate terms and conditions they wish to discuss. Any comments or changes should be in tracked changes mode. Make the contract period clear.
  5. Show me the money! State your preferences and expectations on commercial terms such as payment terms, insurance levels, performance management measures, currency, payment methods etc. Whilst these sometimes may seem obvious, lack of clarity around these matters may result in increased costs over the life of the contract.
  6. How is this going to work? Explain what you want the bidder to do, how you want the process to go, where to find additional information and what will will happen at which stages, any rules you want them to follow. Make it clear who the bidders can contact if they need any support or have queries.  Take care to ensure no bidder is given preference.
  7. Make it easy! Provide templates to give clarity of what needs to be provided, to ensure consistency of responses and make evaluation and comparison easy. For example, spreadsheet for financial info, form for any plans you want to see, templates and guidelines for completing them – it wont just help bidders, but will make it easy for you to compare bids. Parity of tendering must be observed.
  8. Risky business. Include a risk register and list of assumptions and ask bidder to confirm or respond, and advise on any other ones you may not have  considered. It is assumed that the price provided includes everything described in the bid – you don’t want to have surprises when this changes because there was a gap in understanding.
  9. Ask for input. involving the parties who will be either using the goods, managing the contract or in any other way be impacted by the outcomes of the tender is an absolute MUST.  Getting buy-in and relevant input from specialists for the relevant sections such as legal, technical, financial, operational etc will help make sure that every angle has been considered for successful execution.
  10. Time is always of the essence! State the tender timelines making sure that it is clear when the order is likely to be placed and when you want the quote validity to start and end. There is often delays at the very end of the process, and the last thing you want is to start renegotiating at the very end if there was a misunderstanding that the contract will be signed immediately on award (sometimes it doesn’t!).

Tender is the opportunity to set yourself up for success and ask questions that you need to have the answers to in order to make the procurement a success. Make it work for you.

If you would like to share any other tips and ideas, or would like to discuss your particular challenge, please get in touch - marina@bemari.co.uk

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